It's Dentistry That Patients Hate, Not The Dentist

by Paul O'Dwyer ,  Irish Times | 2011-06-01

‘I HATE dentists . . . no offence but I hate dentists.” “I hate being here.” “If I never see this place again, it’ll be too soon.”

Believe it or not, these lines occur more frequently than you’d imagine in the dental surgery. I can almost see a few heads nodding as you read them.

Some years back, I employed a new dental nurse. She had never worked in a surgery. When she heard a new patient to the practice say, “I hate dentists”, she was gob-smacked (pun intended), so I suggested she record how many times she heard the line. In her first month, she logged 25 times. I hadn’t even noticed one of them.

On starting practice as a new dental graduate, your head is filled with patient care, treatment planning, the fundamentals of restorative dentistry and the myriad of other clinical concerns which face you daily. For you, it’s your job. But for your patient, it’s often a leap of faith.

Why do patients feel this way? With my own patients, I often suggest that they may hate (though I prefer the word dislike) dentistry rather than dentists.

We all have memories of extractions or fillings when we were younger. Some were good experiences, some not so good.

But thankfully time has moved on – we now have faster-acting and longer-lasting anaesthetics. Local topical gels (ointments placed at the injection site) freeze the gum area even before the injection is given and techniques have improved.

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